Salt Lake Bees win on eighth-inning hustle play
Catchers aren't usually the ones who take off in late-game situations, hunting for the extra base.
But with little depth, the Salt Lake Bees needed John Hester for now a designated hitter to be the one to run. And he obliged in the eighth, getting from first to third on a shallow hit to left center.
A play later, Hester trotted home on a wild pitch. It was enough to give the Bees (2-0) a 2-1 victory over the visiting Tuscon Padres (0-2) on Friday night at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
"I was running in [the pitcher's] face, but it was time to take that chance," Hester said. "Once I saw the ball in the outfield, I knew I was going to try to take the extra base and force the left fielder to make the play."
That's what manager Keith Johnson looks for from his whole roster, catchers included.
"He's not a speed demon, but he's a pretty good baserunner," Johnson said. "He put himself in position to score the winning run."
If you want to play for the Anaheim Angels some day, you must learn to fly like an Angel on the basepaths. Every player, one through nine, is expected to contribute on the bags.
The faster guys need experience getting steals, the role they might fill at the big league level. But even a catcher like Hester will need to be ready to run in key situations, like Hester did before Tommy Field even made contact for a line drive between third base and shortstop.
Getting there isn't necessarily the important part the hustle is.
"It's a state of mind in the Angels organization," outfielder Scott Cousins said. "It's something they preach over and over again. And if you get thrown out, at least you were aggressive. They'd rather you go for it than be tentative."
The Bees are going to have to get baserunning from unexpected places, especially with the news Friday afternoon that top outfielding prospect Kole Calhoun is out for at least a month with a fracture in his hamate bone.
The team missed Calhoun's bat on Friday, notching only two hits in the first seven innings. Only Hester managed to get more than one for the game, also driving in a run in the fifth inning on a double.
Pitching ruled the day. Bees starter Billy Buckner allowed a run in the first inning, but didn't allow any others while striking out five. The bullpen held on, with Robert Coello getting the win after escaping the eighth with two runners aboard.
Defense was a strength as well: The Bees infield turned double plays in back-to-back innings. Cousins and Matt Young each made tough catches near the warning track.
The team has yet to make an error in the field in the short season.
"These guys are doing a great job out there," Johnson said. "They've done it all winter. In spring training it showed up, they did very good on the defensive side of the ball."
Utah 2, Tucson 1
O Designated hitter John Hester goes 2 for 2 and scores the winning run.
• Starter Billy Buckner strikes out five and gives up only one run.